I’ve been reading a book by Robin Sharma, The Leader Who Had No Title and I had so many thoughts go through my head. One of the key points is that everyone has a responsibility to be a leader. That just kept going over and over again in my mind. Wow, let that sink in for a minute…..

That is truly revolutionary statement. That changes the entire paradigm of who is responsible for what. I find myself constantly leading everyone at the company. The problem is that at the end of the day, I have precious little juice left to lead myself. Now for my entire lifetime, I thought that was my role, to constantly lead others, and lead others, and still lead others. I just now came up with a takeoff of the old saying ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day…Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. It’s time for me to not only model leadership, not only teach leadership, but for all to take the mantel of responsible to transforming themselves into leaders.

They say in theater, There are no small roles and that makes sense because how important that one line or one scene makes to the entire play. I need to make sure that everyone in the company understands just how truly important they are to the entire company. And not only just this one little thing they do but how they do it, how they innovate their small corner of the process, how they encourage the employee to their left and right (and how they encourage me, I might add), how they take responsibility for results and most importantly how they show they are absolutely devoted to expressing their absolute best.

And we need to understand that we all have a place in our company’s and in this world. But wherever that is, in NYC or San Antonio, doing whatever it is we do, pushing a broom or making billion dollar decisions, we are called to lead where we are placed and in what circumstance we now find ourselves. And the best part of the deal is that we are 100% responsible for how we show up in our current condition. It is a matter of choice, baby and that is what sets us apart.

And what happens when we choose to operate at our peak, when we choose to take on that mantel of leadership, and when we choose to take on the responsibility? You and your organization get to world class, very quickly.

What Was Does Not Have To Be

So here we are at the end of another year…another very good year for me and my clan. But what does that really mean…and why should it matter to you?

I was just on the phone with a very dear friend of over 45 years named Bob. Now the fact of the matter is that he and I had not had much contact over the past 20 years, nothing wrong but just not much contact, life just happening and all. He really went MIA about 3 years ago when his business went belly up and just decided to leave and start his life anew in a small country town in central Texas. He is rebuilding his life, starting to build his confidence up and then BOOM! Everything blows up again. He has a very serious disease.

What I had not mentioned is that I did not let him go quietly into the night when he disappeared over 3 years ago. He kept his cell phone on…but never answered it. But I left voices mails…sent text messages, just basically never gave up on old Bob. Well he called me last week and let me know about his illness but mostly he called to apologize for not calling me because of his ‘shame’ of going bankrupt (self-imposed I might add) and to say thanks, a half a dozen times, for continuing to chase him down and not give up on him. Nice story….but so what?
I had some concerns that if he survived this disease and its treatment that he would just lose his ‘juice’ and just live out his life…humbly, lovingly, appreciatively…but just living it out, not going out there and grabbing Life by the Throat. This I will just not allow. I have seen many a hollow shell of man, just sitting, marking time, without Juice, without purpose, without a Destiny. We all have a Destiny folks. Some of us just wait for it to show up at the front door and when we open it, Destiny is dressed as the Grim Reaper. The others (me for instance) THROW OPEN THE DOOR and chase down Destiny, on crutches if need be and it shows up as this giant ball of Fire.

I wrote a published column where I said ‘YOU ARE NEITHER A VICTIM OF YOUR PAST CIRCUMSTANCES NOR HITTING A GLASS WALL IN FRONT OF YOU’. Bob is facing a bunch of challenges, some today, and certainly even more tomorrow but just like his success in years past did not guarantee him his future, the problems of business and health are not glass walls stopping him from making his future into whatever he and his sweet bride want to make of it. A belief in himself and the love of an old friend might be all he needs to make the next chapter of his life, the best one yet.

So back to the opening paragraph: Why should you give a tinkers damn whether or not I and my family had a pretty good year? Our futures are not necessarily formed by our pasts. Bob would be just as much a fool by giving up on his future because of the past few years of setbacks and the upcoming year of medical problems as I would be if I got complacent because we had a few successes this year. Remember, I am the cat that took twenty five years before I made a profit.

Until next time…….

Living Life With a Sense of Urgency

The Executive Committee of Lake just got to spend two very full, very exhausting, but very productive days going over the results of the our first year of having Peter Braeuler of Gazelles International reorganize and reengineer the company.

To say that I was simultaneously surprised, happy, and proud of the results would be a major understatement.  We hit all the major goals that we had set in stone back in January.  Now that might mean one of two things, since we just blue skied the numbers 10 months ago: One it might be we were incredibly lucky to accidentally hit the numbers or Two, it might be we actually know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for…but wait there might be third answer.

Maybe by chiseling those numbers in stone at the Petroleum Club 10 months ago, could we have set in motion the intent, the unrelenting resolve to make it happen?  So that’s pretty cool, we get jacked up and make ourselves hit the number, that’s great but how did we make sure we hit those numbers by the end of the year?  I started thinking about it and it occurred to me that something had to change inside of Bruce, Caryn and me (as well as Peter, I imagine).

A Sense of Urgency is what instantly sprang to mind and has stayed in my mind as the only reason.  A sense of urgency made those numbers attainable because if we understood that the pinnacle of those final numbers was only going to happen if we looked at each and every event of every day as an important part of the yearly tapestry that we wove.   This Sense of Urgency kind of dove tails with one of favorite ‘Dougisms’  “If it is IMPORTANT you will do it…If it is not IMPORTANT, you will not do it…MAKE EVERYTHING IMPORTANT!”.

Cindy Booker, our Head of Human Resources, is going to be tasked with building Lake University.  LU is what we at Lake are going to instituting in 2014.  There will be curriculum, degree plans, diplomas…we even have a school mascot (picture below).  And like all degree plans, there are core courses that everyone must take and what do you think will be the mandatory class that every new employee must take?  Living your life with a Sense of Urgency taught by the CEO is something I dearly look forward to teaching.  Everyone knows that I am a teacher at heart and working on the curriculum with Cindy and Jennifer Webb will be a treat for me.

I also want to welcome our newest employee, Erin Hill to the Lake Group of Companies.  She will be in charge of Web Development, Social Media, and have no small amount of input in the upgrading of computing and software systems.  Erin will be the first student of Lake University.  One last thing, Erin is my daughter and recently graduated from prestigious Baylor University and completed an internship at the National Press Club of Washington D.C.  It takes me back to the first week of June 1966 when my father got me up at 5 A.M. and gave me my first Lake Truck Lines uniform and took me to work to a job I have been at for 47 years.

Lake U Mascot
(Lake, the company mascot)

The Four Cores of Credibility

As we delve deeper into the ‘The Speed of Trust’ I want you to ask yourself: Do I EXUDE trust? As I mentioned last week, I used to think I had the highest level of Trust ….but then I found out what was involved in Trust and I have a long way to go.

There are ‘Four Cores of Credibility’: They are your Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results. All have a vital role in the whether or not you Exude Trust. So let’s take a brief look at each of these:

INTEGRITY: I bet when you started reading these blogs over the last few weeks you felt that Trust was based entirely on Integrity, but it is much much more. It is integratedness. It is how all elements of your core values work together to make you into the person that people Trust ….or a person that people Don’t Trust. Whenever this segment of the Four Cores is broken that is when you have a massive violation of trust.

INTENT: What is your motive, your agenda in every relationship? Ours is simple, look after the customers’ best interests in all matters and the old adage: The Customer is ALWAYS Right…even when they are wrong, they are always right. I try really hard to be open and straightforward in all my dealings. I find it way to tedious to be deceitful. It is a lot easier just to be honest about what your motives are…assuming your motives are pure. When we work for what is in everyone’s best interests, and express it that way, you make major strides in developing trust. As Mr. Covey says: ‘Both integrity and intent are matters of character’. Simple, straightforward, and could not be more on target.

CAPABILITIES: I bet you are wondering about this guy. It’s simple, you can be honest, have the clients best interests at heart, but if you cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, much less have the skill set to solve the clients problems, than you will not build trust with a client. The other way to think about it is do you have the capabilities to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust?

RESULTS: Basically, do you deliver? At game time do you score or fumble? Our clients love me. They just love me a little bit more because we deliver on promises-100% of the time (well 99.5% based on last quarter). If you do not deliver on what is expected of you than obviously lose trust. One of the things that makes such an easy sell is that our Reputation Precedes Us. Both Capabilities and Results are matters of competence.

So you now see where trust comes from. There is a bit of work involved but nothing that is difficult. Be honest, be straightforward, have the skills to deliver, and when it is game time, push the ball over the goal. Do these things and you will generate trust…by the boatload.

How Trust Works

As I continue to work through the great book, The Speed of Trust, I keep going back to the point of How Trust Works. You might think you know, I know I did but after the next two blogs you will find out that creating trust is not just making commitments and keeping them. Oh no, it is much much more than that.

I want you to think about Who Do You Trust? A parent, a teacher, a coach (my favorite)? How about a best friend or your spouse? Now let’s get to the meat of the matter and the reason you are reading this: Do you trust your vendors, do you trust your clients, and the big one, do you trust your employees?

Now why do you trust them? Yeah, that’s the easy answer. I ask it again, another reason why do you trust them? What is it about this relationship that inspires trust? As you ask yourself this question over and over again, you find many reasons why you trust them.

Now for the tough part. WHO DO YOU NOT TRUST: An ex-wife (another of my personal favorites), an ex-friend, an ex-client, partner, vendor? So the question again, what is it about those relationships that killed trust? Stay out of the weeds and the stories. Just stick with the direct answers. Oh yeah, by the way, why would you continue to be friends with, do business with, even be married to…someone you don’t trust? Wow is that a whole different kettle of fish.

There might be many different reasons that you trust people but my guess is that with the people you do not trust, pretty much the same reason comes up over and over again.

Now for the really tough one: Who trusts you? Don’t say everybody. As honorable as I think I am, my guess is there are some people that do not trust me. The people at home, do they trust you? How about the people at work? People you just met, do you just engender trust? How about people that have known you for a long time, does your veneer just wear thin after a while?

Most of us think that trust is all about character, of being honest, taking the hit when things get tough, making commitments and then keeping them. I am here to tell you that to think that trust is based solely on character is a myth.

Next week I will get into where trust really comes from

Until Next Week……..

High Trust vs Low Trust

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I have been reading a truly life changing book, called ‘The Speed of Trust’ and will be teaching it to my Mangers and using it as a basis for my blogs for the next few months. Today I want to think about how do you feel in a high trust relationship and how do you feel in a low trust relationship?

Reading this book has allowed me to review how I feel about the relationships I am in. This not just business, this is social and friendships as well. As some of you might know, when I moved from Houston, I cut loose a ton of relationships with people, I now realized, I was in a low trust relationship. When you are in a Low Trust relationship with a vendor of yours how does that make you feel? Are you sluggish in working with them and quick to judgment? Do you feel like each email needs to read like a legal brief? Do you feel like the two of you do not share common, if not identical goals? Does it feel like the two of you are working towards ‘who looks right’ instead of ‘what works best’? I am getting exhausted just typing these nonproductive scenarios; just imagine how exhausting it is living through them. Oh, you already have been living in them?

Now think about what a High Trust relationship looks like. Do you have one of those to refer to, or are you tied into nothing but the low trust types? Do you see how the conversations just flow between you and your vendor? Heck, this person is not your vendor; this is one of your most trusted advisors! The collaboration is clean, the responses immediate the language clear and concise and agreed to. I notice there are no surprises in my High Trust relationships. Even if there is something that was unforeseen, it is not treated as a surprise because my vendor is always given the benefit of the doubt.

I fired a vendor earlier this year, someone who I bought a couple of million dollars a year in equipment from. I fired them, not because of price, not because of quality, but simply because I could not trust one word that came out of their mouths. I was tired and exhausted, but it allowed me to understand the high cost and slow speed of low trust relationships. It’s exhausting and never worth it. My new vendor is a complete blessings and I suspect we will double our orders with him by the end of the year. We are reviewing another vendor right now that is high cost and slow speed and based on what I learned earlier this year, I know what to do.

Until next time…………….

The Speed of Trust: Branding – What is your personal brand

I have been reading a spectacular book, The Speed of Trust, written by Stephen M.R. Covey, son of the late Stephen Covey of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame. To say that the reading of this book has changed my life would be an understatement. It has changed how I look at myself, my company, and truly my place in this world.

The book has to do with your personal 4 cores of credibility that are the foundation of all trust and how to build it. It then goes into the 13 behaviors that build or destroy trust. From there it talks about the 5 waves of trust: personal trust, trust with others, trust in the organization, market trust, and societal trust.

I really enjoyed the section of market trust and the building of your brand. The Lake Group of Companies is working to build a branding strategy for Lake, so I guess that is why it resonated with me. But what I really like was a small section regarding your own personal brand.

Now we all know of brands and their respective icons that we respect: Nikes swish, EBay’s’ funny little colorful letters and we know of companies that violated our trust: Enron’s’ tilted E, WorldCom’s star and slash. My question to you is simply: What do you think of when you see the brand Douglas Sterling Cain? What do you think of your brand when you look in the mirror? What do others think when they see your face, hear your voice or read your name? How are you treated? Do you get the benefit of the doubt in a tough situation? Do people listen and respect your opinion? Do your clients respect your point of view in negotiations? At home, do your children respect you and really listen to you when you speak. Does your bride trust your instincts when the two of you are debating about purchasing a new home, moving the kids to a private school, or how much money to save per month?

On every level, in every relationship, whether or not you are truly trusted makes all the
difference in the world. Remember when there is trust, costs go down and speed goes up.

Until next week………………

It’s Never Too Late To Start

Last week my consulting partner in business, Bernard Rojano and I were down visiting Gerardo Gallegos, President of Gallegos Group, in Torreon Mexico.  We were inspecting trailers and oilfield equipment that Mr. Gallegos was building for Lake Truck Lines and Lake Oilfield Services.  Afterwards we went out to his ranch about an hour and a half north of Torreon and it was breathtaking.  Tens of thousands of acres could be seen in all directions from the top of a ridge that ran across the center of the property.  A forty acre greenhouse for growing, oh I don’t know 25-30,000 tomato plants, 40,000 square foot building for cleaning, packing and refrigerated storage, game preserve, 10,000 Pecan trees, and 30,000 grapevines.  Basically more than I could take in.  I was speechless and those that know me understand that is not easy to do.

But what was amazing is that he did all this in about 2 years.  Yeah, two years.  So all this culminates with a conversation with Bernard and me telling him I feel like such a slacker.  Look at how much our gracious host, Gerardo had done in just 2 short years.  Without drawing a breath, Bernard says, “It’s never too late to start”.  Wow that floored me.  Simple words, powerful effect.  I did not wait to return to San Antonio to get started on the project that brought us down there.

I started the following morning.I have been reading a great little book, Make Today Count by John Maxwell.  I learned how to squeeze more and more out of every day.   I started believing that no matter what the shortcomings and failures of today, that tomorrow is a new day and I can make it into what I did not make out of the day before.And squeeze more out of every day is what is going to be required of me starting today.

Lake Oilfield Services is part of a consortium of companies that is in negotiation to become partners in 5 barite mines.  Add to that we have been given the task of adding 30 trucks for the Permian Basin Division, and we start in the winch truck business with our first 4 bulk barite tanks showing up in 2 weeks.  Tomorrow we start negotiations with a drilling fluids company out of Oklahoma that wants us to be their Eagle Ford Shale Distribution Center. Add to that a two day conference with an exhibition (something we have never done before) in April; I have three speaking engagements in June and a trip to West Texas and New Mexico next week.  You can see this just about more than even I can handle.

But there is some exciting news corporate wise.  Jerry Santos, Operations Manager of the South Texas Bulk Division, has been promoted to General Manager of Lake Truck Lines Inc.  Jerry has shown time and time again that the company can depend not only on his efforts but his unparalleled knowledge of the industry. Jerry’s replacement has not been determined but will come from within. Remembering where Jerry started two and one half years ago, he is humbled at the opportunity.  Hey Jerry, It’s Never Too Late To Start, and you have certainly proved that.

Until Next Week
Douglas Cain

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must first turn his back on the crowd

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must first turn his back on the crowd” James Crook

Finding my own voice has never been difficult for me. Treading the path less traveled has always been my preferred way. Yet over the years, I have never ignored the advice of those who have lived, learned and experienced different things in life. This has been vital to my success up to this point. The key though, is knowing when to listen to what’s inside you. To apply all the knowledge and experience you have gained in your life to whatever situation you are faced with and make the right choice.

It’s always easier to look to your left or right and ask others “what would you do?”, but to look inside yourself and pull from the silent voice within is the path to becoming a stronger person, a true leader and a better man.


A great man leaves clean work behind him and requires no sweeper up of the chips

“A great man leaves clean work behind him and requires no sweeper up of the chips” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Stepping into a new position can be a daunting task. Even more so, if you are placed in a position to clean up a mess left by your predecessor.  Fortunately and blissfully, that is not something that I am faced with.  My transition to COO with Lake Truck Lines has thus far been seamless. This is something that no doubt has to do with the strong foundation laid by the ones that came before me. The task at hand and for years to come is to leave a clean path for those who follow.

The foundation has been laid for success, but in order for it to remain that way we must not be content to just maintain the status quo. We must continue to learn and grow…to build and innovate and leave a clear path for the generations to come.